Assess the view that the US Policy of Marshall Aid was motivated mainly by the altruistic desire to help the economic recovery of Europe.

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Assess the view that the US Policy of Marshall Aid was motivated mainly by the altruistic desire to help the economic recovery of Europe.

Following advice from U.S General Marshall, Marshall Aid was introduced to Europe in 1947.  Some argue this policy was motivated mainly through altruistic desire to help the economic reconstruction of Europe; however the four interpretations dismiss this argument, focusing on the need to boost capitalism, preventing communism. The main reasons for Marshall Aid’s introduction were political and economic, not altruistic.

The theory that Marshall Aid was mainly motivated through altruism isn’t credibly acknowledged in any interpretation. Judt acknowledges altruism in his interpretation by stating aid was offered ‘’to all European countries, without distinction’’ and ‘’Enthusiastic American New Dealers’’ had ‘’urged upon European colleagues’’ virtues of ‘’freer trade, international collaboration and inter-state integration’’, however he dismisses altruism and argues other influences had great significance, aid was part of a program to reform the European economy as a whole; Europe would need to ‘’collaborate in planning’’ and ‘’confer….with each other’’. ‘’Enthusiastic American New Dealers’’ supported aid through their own self-interests, not altruistic desire. Balfour, McCauley and Gaddis fail to acknowledge altruism in their arguments, supporting Judt’s dismissal. However Europe was devastated following the war and Marshall Aid had reduced the problem, so altruism was not completely absent.

America lacked any altruistic desire to help Russia. Fear of Soviet domination and the spread of communism was key to the introduction of aid in the first place, this is argued in each interpretation, adding credibility to each view. Gaddis argues the ‘’immediate psychological benefits’’ produced by economic assistance would halt the spread of communism. However in contrast to Gaddis, Judt draws focus to ‘’productivity missions funded by the Marshall Plan’’ in his interpretation, which brought ‘’thousands of managers, technicians and trade unionists’’ the U.S to study “the  American way of business’’. There is evidence to make this a credible argument as it ties in with revisionist theory that America intended to use Marshall Aid as a form of economic imperialism to asset their authority over Europe. Gaddis concedes Russia refusing aid would ‘’strain relationships’’, enabling the U.S to ‘’seize the geopolitical and moral initiative in the emerging Cold War’’,  thus strengthening Judt’s argument that aid favoured American interests as well as containing communism.

Balfour suggests a main objective of the Marshall Plan was to ‘’win the mouths and minds of the West European peoples so as to prevent them from turning Communist’’, again focusing on America’s fear of communism. This meant boosting capitalism, which was ‘’being resuscitated’’ and given a prosperity ‘’highly alluring to countries on the fringes of the USSR’’, to encourage Cominform nations to denounce communism, a fairly forceful argument acknowledged by each interpretation. Judt implies aid was part of a ‘’programme to reform the European economy’’ and is correct when stating Stalin and Molotov’s suspicions of ‘‘the terms Marshall was proposing’’ being ‘’quite incompatible with the closed Soviet economy’’.  Neither the US or USSR were prepared to accept each other’s economic system, Judt again references the differing ideologies and argues that as well as reducing Soviet influence, boosting capitalism and encouraging free trade would have the desired effect of containing communism. Further evidence to make this a credible argument is within Balfour’s interpretation, Molotov viewed aid as ‘’an attempt by American capitalists to capture additional markets’’. In contrast to  Balfour and Judt who focus on differing ideologies as a key motivation, the counter revisionist argument that Marshall Aid was motivated by U.S self-interest re-emerges in McCauley’s interpretation, ‘’an expanding European market would take more U.S goods’’. Nations accepting aid would be open to U.S  markets, the incentive of viable trading partners which would in turn ‘’avoid depression’’, as Molotov believed.  America’s  need for a viable trade partner is expressed further  by Gaddis, arguing that economic assistance would provide ‘’immediate psychological benefits’’ and ‘’material ones that would reduce this trend’’ where goods and capital could move freely, boosting capitalism. Introducing Marshall Aid would solve two problems by containing communism and providing a badly needed trade partner for America, adding credibility to the two arguments.

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Balfour’s interpretation also focuses on economic factors as the main motivation behind Marshall Aid, which could be used to turn countries to capitalism and ‘’recover the position which had been lost between 1944 and 1947’’, despite the fact Balfour implies that Eastern Europe was not a market for the West, Molotov’s belief supports Balfour’s argument. McCauley’s interpretation also focuses on economic recovery; containing a speech by John Foster Dulles, putting the future of Germany ‘’in the context of the economic unity of Europe’’ rather than the Potsdam view of Germany as ‘’an economic entity’’. German recovery would lead to ...

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